Sunday, February 03, 2013

Improved commenting

I’m transitioning this blog to the Disqus commenting system. It should be better for everyone, but even more so me because it should mean less work.

Disqus is the largest third-party commenting system, used by blogs, mainstream news sites and plenty of others to make commenting robust and full-featured. It’s also better at killing spam than Blogger’s built-in comment system.

Because Disqus is so big, chances are good that most active blog commenters already have a Disqus account (I’ve had one for a very long time). However—and this is important—no one needs to have an account in order to leave a comment. Instead, anyone can create a pseudonym or comment anonymously, just as before. However, setting up a Disqus account gives users the ability to take part in discussions in ways than anonymous/pseudonymous comments don’t allow. At the very least, pick a pseudonym you always use (about which, more below)

Here’s some of what’s new:
  • Clicking on “Comments and reactions” now opens that post, not a pop up window. You may not even notice at first if it’s the current post, so you may need to scroll down. This is actually how I had Blogger set up back when I first started this blog. When the post opens happens, you’ll also notice—maybe for the first time—an icon that says “Print PDF” at the bottom, before the commenting area. That uses Print Friendly so that you can print the post or create a PDF of it. I added that feature a long time ago, but never mentioned it.
  • Comments are in reverse order—newest at the top. That’s the opposite of how they used to be displayed, and may take some getting used to. On the other hand, it’ll also make it easy to see new comments. Update: Doh! Because I don't use Disqus all that much, I didn't notice that you can change that, showing comments oldest first, newest first or "best" (which means comments people like). The "Discussion" tab, right above the top comment, has a drop-down menu for you to choose what you like best. The default is newest first.
  • Comments are now threaded, which means you can reply directly to a comment, rather than post one at the end. Blogger actually offered this feature, but I didn’t use it because the timestamp was Google’s home time zone (Pacific USA), not the time zone of my blog. It’s a small thing, I know, but it really annoyed me.
  • You can also share a comment on Twitter and Facebook, or you can link to it. I’ve never shared a comment on social media, but I have sometimes linked to comments (linking was possible under Blogger’s commenting system, too, but it wasn’t as obvious or easy).
  •  I get stronger protection against spam comments. I can now blacklist really naughty people and whitelist really nice ones. The blacklist blocks them from commenting (something I’ve never felt compelled to do in all these years), and whitelisting allows me to let certain preferred commenters bypass some of the filters (like spam).
At the moment, I have almost everything set to the defaults, so there may be some further changes behind the scenes if I don’t have spam protection set strongly enough. If there’s anything that folks would notice, I’ll mention it in a post. Otherwise, probably not.

Apparently, all the old comments have now been transferred, so they should all be there now. We should be able to carry on where we left off.

If you have trouble, or something doesn’t seem to work correctly, you can always email me (email link is on the righthand sidebar). But because this system is so ubiquitous, I don’t think any of us will have trouble adjusting.

Now that this is sorted, we can get back to—ahem—disqusions (yeah, I had to go there…).

Update: I've already noticed that the line at the bottom of posts that reads "Comments and Reactions" doesn't update the counts quickly. So, what it says—especially on new posts—may not be an accurate count. I'll look into that.

Update 2: No answer yet for the problem in the first update, but now a new one: A real comment from "Anonymous" shows up in Blogger itself, but hasn't made it through Disqus—even though others made later did. My settings should allow them through. Maybe they take longer to get through the spam filters. I guess we'll see, but it's also probably an argument for choosing an identity of some sort.

Update 3: The problem in the Update 2 is solved! It turns out that Blogger's mobile device format doesn't support widgets, which is what Disqus is, and THAT means comments posted to mobile devices are posted to Blogger, NOT Disqus. So, I edited the HTML to force the mobile template to use Disqus. From now on, ALL comments, whether from a mobile device or a computer will go through Disqus.

On the other hand those
comments from Anonymous are trapped in Blogger. I could import again, but I'm leery of doing that because it might import the other comments again, too, doubling them up. So, I think it's best we all just move on—now that it's fixed!


Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

This is just an example of what a comment looks like.

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

And this is what it looks like when someone replies to a comment.

Anonymous said...

... and may all your comments be soam-free!

Anonymous said...

SPAM-free. I previewed the previous post and still missed the typo. Wish I could edit it ... This is why I rarely comment on blogs!

Roger Green said...

good luck with the new system

Arthur (AmeriNZ) said...

Thanks—and thanks, too, for being the first person I get to add to the "nice list"! :-)

Arthur Schenck said...

It is possible to edit, though, as I understand it, we're not given much time.